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Ian Desmond’s PED idea: make players play for 50 games without pay

Mar 15, 2013, 9:54 AM EDT

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Interesting PED discussion involving Nationals players in this Amanda Comak story at the Washington Times. They’re talking about the increased or altered PED penalties, noting some of the inherent problems in the system and how to best address them. Ian Desmond — admitting at the outset that he’s just sort of riffing — has a novel idea:

Desmond, prefacing the idea as “unpolished,” described a scenario in which a player would lose 50 games worth of pay but be required to stay with his team and have the opportunity to play.

“It’s the manager’s discretion, if he thinks the player is performing, then he plays. If not, he’s on the bench, but he’s around,” Desmondexplained. “Your face is in front of the camera, you have to deal with your teammates, and if you don’t play up to your potential, then if you hit free agency, people are going to see a true evaluation of you.

Obviously problematic and likely unworkable. But his broader comments after that, and the comments of Drew Storen, do point out what seems to be something significant: there’s shame and ego and all sorts of things tied up in players’ decision to use PEDs. And that focusing so much on the severity of the penalty may not get at the problem the way people think. Guys who use think they’ll never get caught, so 50 games or even 100 games may not be enough.  Guys who take PEDs aren’t necessarily twirling their mustaches at the prospect of gaming the system, they’re insecure in their abilities and are looking at the easiest way to live up to the hype or to cash in or whatever. When thinking about how to solve the problem, those motivations should be considered.

I guess the biggest takeaway from this, and from other articles about the prospect of enhanced PED penalties is that the players are thinking about this stuff. And that, shockingly, they have better insight into the psychology of a cheating player than do baseball writers, WADA and the like.  And as such, it’s probably worth listening to them before mindlessly jacking up the penalties and banning people for life.

  1. darthicarus - Mar 15, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    The Mets tried this, but instead of PEDs and a player it was the owners & they were apparently on LSD and did it backwards. Mr. Bonilla thanks them for their attempt.

  2. DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I agree that no player says “Ehh, 50 games is no big deal if I get caught”, i.e. they use thinking they will not get caught. I believe that the solution is to make the liklihood of getting caught stronger – the bio-passport sort of stuff, creating baseline of what a players blood samples should look like, and if they have deveated, you have some explaining to do.

    Oh – and letting the guy play without pay? Stupid. He plays up the “shame” angles of appearing before the camera as a suspended player, yet ignores the fact that if you aren’t playing, you let your team down. Teamates you later have to face. In shame

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Craig, I GUARANTEE that if you “mindlessly” ban players for life, there would be ZERO star players ever caught again playing around with PEDs. The problem is that a guy like Braun can miss 50 games and still make 8-figures for that season. Whereas, if he were banned for life, he would make ZERO FIGURES and, considering that baseball is all he has, would probably be stuck playing in the Carny league, depending on how much money he has put away.

    • carbydrash - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      And you know, if we publicly hung everyone who got caught pirating music and then (almost) nobody would pirate music.

      But some people still would because they would be sure they wouldn’t get caught. But they would. You know, kind of like how people still murder people even though there are really terrible penalties for it.

      How about we let the punishment fit the crime. First offense, you lost 1/3 of the season. It’s harsh and it has been shown you can get caught. 2nd, 2/3 of the season: You’re an idiot, you lost 100 games, what made you think you could get away this again. 3rd: You’re out. Judging by what most everyone can agree is the large drop in PED use, this seems to be working pretty well.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        Who says the current punishment “fits the crime”? I disagree and feel lifetime ban first time caught, as it is in some other sports, would be better. Just a difference of opinion I guess. No biggie.

      • dprat - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        And I feel that it would be better if we just start lopping off a hand for stealing a loaf of bread. Just a difference of opinion I guess. No biggie.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Would baseball be better without Braun?

  4. joejaws75 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Take a seat Gio you cheater

  5. karlton3 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Pretty sure that idea is called a’fine’.

  6. gerryb323 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    How about we put a big yellow star with “PED” emblazoned upon it?

    • Old Gator - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      The Hester Prynne option. I like that. Bud Light is kinda dim(msdale) anyway.

  7. icanspeel - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    So then if a player cares more about winning than their paycheck for 50 games (Just think of any player who has made enough already) then they can take PED, try to improve and help their team win still if caught. Great idea…

  8. TIF - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Regardless of whether Desmond’s idea is a “good” one, it’s great to see players thinking about PED use and sincerely wanting to find ways to stop it. This scenario (where players are openly discussing PED use) is a sharp contrast to the hush-hush, protect-your-own ways from not so long ago. It’s refreshing to see that there has been a legitimate change in this regard and that MLB players “are thinking about this stuff.”

  9. echech88 - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    I actually kind of like the idea as it would show us what we could really expect from a “clean” version of a player who’s been busted. I’d even build some kind of language into the CBA that allows team the option to void or seriously reduce a player’s contract.

    I’d add mandatory, year-round tests for offenders with it known that another failed test would result in a 2 year ban or something.

    Lifetime ban just seems so crazy to me.

  10. gerryb323 - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Bbbbut the stats!

    So A-Rod could say “F-it, my career’s been screwed anyway, I’m taking down Bonds”

    Then he juices up to his eyeballs, hits 85 home runs a year for the next 4 years while leading the Yanks to 4 straight WS victories.

    All for free since he’s already made 100s of millions.

    *Note: This may be exaggerating the affects of steriods slightly.

  11. nukeladouche - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    How ’bout this for punishment:

    A player found to have used PEDs will be suspended 50 games for the first infraction (that’s 50 games without pay) plus his contract will be voided thereafter, forcing him to play the remainder of the season that follows the 50 game suspension for the league minimum salary, and then – for those who are free agent-eligible – forcing them to hit the open market for a new contract when their un-PED-enhanced value is lower. . . .

    I recognize that given the different tiers of players under the current CBA (i.e., less experienced players who aren’t arbitration or FA-eligible yet) this punishment wouldn’t deter younger players as much as those who are FA-eligible, so it would have to be tweaked to provide a different sort of penalty for the non-FA-eligible players (of which there are really two tiers: the arbitration-eligible and those who are still in their early years and are at the whim/mercy of their team). Still, hitting the older, FA-eligible players in their wallets by voiding any ill-begotten contracts they signed when potentially on the juice would at least discourage those players from using in the first place. . . . Imagine if A-Rod had been facing such a penalty – i.e., the forfeiture of a $200 million contract going forward and the possibility of facing the open market with reduced expectations given PED-inflated stats. . . . Presumably he would’ve been far less likely to have juiced. . . .

    • nukeladouche - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Plus, my proposal protects those teams who may have unwittingly offered a lucrative contract to a guy whose stats were PED-enhanced by allowing them an “out.” They can still renegotiate, of course, or they can choose to walk away from a player whose future performance is now in doubt given that his past performance was PED-enhanced. . . .

      Again, I get that my idea doesn’t do anything for those non-FA-eligibles, but it’s consistent with contracts that have language that allows for them to be voided by the actions of one of the parties. . . .

      For those who (I anticipate) will argue that this gives owners a bit of a free pass on the PED issue, I’d say this: losing a major league player for 50 games hurts your team, so the suspension aspect of the rule still serves to discourage owners from “looking the other way” on PED use.

    • obpedmypants - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      On the flip side, Mike Trout could get his small contract voided, sit out a year, then make 50x more with his new one.

    • carbydrash - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      How about this:

      –Any player caught using PEDs stays on the roster and can still play, but must bat opposite handed. If say….A-Rod tested positive, he could still play, but would have to bat left handed for 50 games. Same with pitchers. Switch hitters would have to stand in the middle of the plate and fend off balls thrown directly at them.

      –Alternate proposal: Players got using steroids could still use them, but must negate the effects must take a bunch of heroin an hour before each game.

      The important thing is that we come up with as many proposals as possible to keep highlighting the one in place *is fine*.

      • nukeladouche - Mar 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        I like the alternate proposal, with this modification:

        In addition to the heroin, they must be required to eat a 2500 calorie turkey dinner an hour before gametime. For, let’s say – 100 games.

      • kopy - Mar 15, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Okay, your switch hitter bit made me laugh out loud in the office.

        But in the interest of safety, we could make switch hitters bat right-handed with their left fist on top, and vice versa.

  12. obpedmypants - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Ian Desmond would be a great representative of an MLB owner’s union.

  13. iranuke - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    It is my firm belief that increasing the penalties for PED use will not significantly lower the actual use of PEDs, You need to increase the testing for PEDs to infact lower the use, if you increase the testing so that you are testing at a rate which will catch any user. Instead of random testing, everybody test weekly, that will cut down on PED use.

  14. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    It is fine how it is. Perhaps the forfeited salary should be sent to some charitable cause (minor league players retirement fund? PED testing & awareness/counseling?) instead of remaining in the owner’s pocket though.

  15. dowhatifeellike - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Wouldn’t that be a major labor law violation? You can fine a guy but you can’t make him work while withholding pay.

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